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So you know we had to do it. We saw the live-action version of Disney’s Aladdin and here’s a review of our many thoughts. When Disney first announced that they were bringing the epic tale of Princess Jasmine and the thief from Agrabah to the big screen, we were a bit taken aback. After all, Aladdin is a ’90s classic from our childhoods, and since Robin Williams passed away in 2014, we had no idea who would take over the legendary role of Genie.
As more details about the Guy Ritchie-led film began to leak to the press, we’re just going to admit that our uncertainty grew. There were whispers about the cast not being Middle-Eastern or North African enough for their roles, and once the first photos leaked people literally rioted on the internet.
However, we knew we had to give Aladdin a chance–the man has a magic carpet after all–and we’re glad we did. Despite that tragic top-knot and Yaki braid, Will Smith is legendary as Genie. He makes the character his own, adding a bit of the flair and charm that Robin Williams delivered in 1992. Also, the animation is genuinely extraordinary. When you consider what the animated film looked like and juxtapose it against this flick less than 30-years later, Disney deserves a reward. Aladdin isn’t perfect. It’s a bit too long at 2 hours and 8 minutes, the opening sequence is puzzling, the soundtrack is full of autotune, and we couldn’t really take Jafar serious as a legit villain, but it has a lot of the whimsy of the original.
Feel free to dive into the Cave of Wonders with 7 magical things we love about the live-action Aladdin.
In December 2018– Disney released their first photos of Will Smith as the Genie and we thought people were going to crumble. To say it was overwhelming to see The Fresh Prince as the Genie is the understatement of the century. However, Smith urged us all to give him a chance and we’re glad we did.
Looking over the course of his 30-year-long career, we’re not sure why we questioned the Ali actor, but we won’t do it again. From making jigs like “Friend Like Me” his own, to his warm empathy and wit–Smith’s performance would have made Williams proud. Even when he’s done up in CGI blue, the mentorship and friendship between Aladdin and the Genie are evident and if we’re keeping it real, without the Oscar-nominee, the live-action flick wouldn’t have been half as good as it is.
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine
When Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott was initially cast as Princess Jasmine–folks were none too pleased. The British actress is of Ugandan-Indian descent, which drew a great deal of criticism. Aladdin fans wanted their princess to be Arab or Middle Eastern Despite the naysayers, Scott delivers a fierce and commanding Princess Jasmine that any woman would be proud of. Plus, she has the best vocals out of anyone in the film.
There’s also a feminist twist at the end of the flick that will probably give you a lady boner.
We get that Agrabah is a fictional place, but you can’t have a film set in the Middle East without showcasing the glorious colors and garments of the region. Disney gave all of their pennies to their costume designers and it shows. If nothing else, Princess Jasmine was dressed for the runways, OK.
From her gowns to her jumpsuits and of course all of those glorious jewels, Princess Jasmine might have been stifled at the beginning of the film due to sexism and foolish customs, but she always served fashions, fabrics, and attitude. One pink gown, in particular, made the audience gasp when she appeared.
Gowns, beautiful gowns.
The rest of the cast was dressed cute too.
We lived for Abu in the original Aladdin, so the fact that Disney called up Frank Welker to reprise his role as our favorite kleptomaniac monkey gave us more joy than we could even deal with. Wide-eyed and sneaky–Abu stays by Aladdin’s side throughout the entire film, but one specific sequence involving the little money, a massive ruby, and the Cave of Wonders will literally make your heart sing.
So we were hella nervous that Iago was going to be MIA from Aladdin because we don’t recall seeing him at all in any trailers for the live-action movie. Luckily, Disney knew Jafar needed his nosey little companion. Alan Tudyk was cast as the sassy macaw. It very first time that Gilbert Gottfried did not reprise his role in an Aladdin flick. However, Iago is very present in the movie with all of his absurd one-liners and shenanigans.
If we’re one hundred percent honest, we had high hopes for Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, especially after we saw his abs, but this is Iago’s world, Jafar is just living in it. The man should at least be allowed his luxurious beard next time.
That Magic Carpet
One of the most memorable parts of the OG Aladdin was that whimsical magic carpet. Not only did it take Jasmine and Aladdin on the most romantic date night ever–the carpet also gave us personality and a bit of snark. Watching Disney bring the carpet to life actually made us tear up a little, but we’re just a bit dramatic like that.
The Glorious CGI
We all know that Disney loves to do things on the nose. After all, Aladdin is for kids not just millennials like us who are thirsty to relieve the glory of the ’90s. However, because the studio is so faithful to tradition, watching some of the sequences that are exactly the same as the animated movie shot-by-shot was absolutely astounding. As kids, we could have never imagined seeing Aladdin come to life like this, and that in and of itself was a pretty fantastic experience.
Overall, Aladdin wasn’t perfect, but nothing will ever live up to the classic ’92 version. Still, if you have a kiddo, or if you’re still a big kid at heart, we certainly recommend it.
Aladdin premieres in theaters, May 24, 2019